A Reflection on a Great Week
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2012 provided some stunning racing conditions with sunshine and good breeze for the majority of the regatta. Commenting on the Week, Stuart Quarrie, regatta CEO, said: “The variety of conditions during the Week made for some exciting and challenging racing.
The southerly winds we saw for much of the Week made it more complicated in the shifty conditions for both the sailors and for the course-setters who were forced to set beats and runs across the tide, where even a small variation in wind can disrupt the best laid plans!”
The regatta drew to a successful close at Saturday night’s overall prize-giving, as trophies were awarded for successes across all the classes.
Spinnakers out for tight racing
Racing concluded today for four White Group dayboat classes – SB20, J/80, RS Elite and Victory. The first leg was a tight spinnaker reach for most classes, with the most enthusiastic competitors hoisting as early as possible. However, only the best sailors were able to get them filling in the disturbed air on the start line and for some it was initially more of a hindrance than a benefit.
The SB20 was one of few classes where the bulk of the fleet had spinnakers drawing well from the outset. Tim Newton’s Polarbear notched up her first win of the week, 19 seconds ahead of Iain May’s Space Docker.
Ideal conditions for record breaking
Winds averaging 15 knots, with some stronger gusts, provided ideal conditions for competitors at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week and for a record-breaking circuit of the Isle of Wight.
The start for the SB20 (formerly SB3) class was in relatively light winds, but the fleet encountered big gusts and lulls only a few hundred metres to the west.
After the start it was the overall leader, Jerry Hill’s sportsboatworld.com, and Mark Devereux’s Tobias that emerged from the pack first, with the boats closest to shore – S’Boysterous of Wembley and Paul Wood’s Ausis One – also looking well placed.
Cold front upsets racing plans
A vigorous and unstable cold front, associated with an unseasonally deep low pressure system moving across southern England, upset plans for racing at Cowes Week today. Although mean wind speeds for much of the day were not forecast to be particularly severe, the possibility of sustained squalls of 33-34 knots was a serious concern for race officials.
As a result racing was abandoned for the dayboat classes in White Group and also for the smaller boats in Black Group, while Sunsail F40s raced without spinnakers.
It turned out to be a frustrating morning for many, with big holes in the wind between the showers, along with mammoth wind shifts. Between 1340 and 1350 the wind at Lymington Starting Platform varied from 9 to 33 knots, shifting by almost 40 degrees.
Light winds and false starts slow the pace
Tuesday at Cowes dawned with plenty of sun and light southerly winds that started to build at 0900, reaching 10-12 knots by the time of the first starts. Later the breeze increased still further, to give puffs of up to 16 knots by late morning, before easing back to a mean speed of just over 10 knots.
White Group dayboats that started from the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) line headed towards the east, fighting an ebb tide. Despite this, a lot of boats were over the line at the gun, and two starts had to be recalled. At the other end of the spectrum were those who allowed themselves to be swept too far down tide of the start.
Most of the successful boats started around one-third of the way out from the shore, where they gained some advantage from a weaker tidal stream but were also able to protect their air from other boats.